What Christians and Parents Have in Common

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“When do you feel closest to God?” my pastor asked the congregation this Saturday.

I sat surrounded by toys; spilled popcorn; and my son, Sam, in a back pew reserved for parents with small children. Not now, sprang to my mind. Not as a young mother.

But upon deeper reflection, the pastor also mentioned that to follow Jesus meant to sacrifice everything…to bear your cross…to put others first.

I guess I feel like that…but in service to my kid. To parent babies and young children is to (temporarily) give up things, to sacrifice needs and wants, to bear a cross. A sweet new friend at church who sat with me at lunch said, after I told her I felt I was doing “nothing” in ministry right now, that ministry was “exactly” what I was doing.

So why is it so hard to see motherhood as a work for Christ (at least at this stage)? And why doesn’t it automatically make us feel “close to God”?

Any young mom knows the answer. It’s the “surrounded by toys” thing. The “spilled popcorn” thing. The thing about always being distracted, always making sure your kid doesn’t hurt himself, he has enough to eat, he’s not getting into trouble, or he’s getting consequences for the trouble he caused.

Did I mention the exhaustion?

Then, there is the fear. Fear that there might not be a reward at the end of the road. When they grow up, my kids could write me off, or write off God, or just get too busy for me. And there is the lack of immediate rewards. At least when I serve in church, someone else sees it. But if my kids don’t turn out right, who will ever know about all the effort I’m putting into them right now?

It’s times like these when I have to remember that motherhood is a walk of faith, much like the Christian walk. Much like being a Christian, being a parent is not easy, and it comes with no guarantees for health or prosperity…down here. But if we remain faithful in both walks, there are eternal rewards, and even temporal benefits.

Both walks, if undertaken with a right spirit, lead to self-discipline, self-denial, and the healthier life choices we make when we decide to live for something bigger than ourselves. We continually experience difficulties, but as Rachel Jankovic put it in Loving the Little Years, a new sin or challenge in our kids (and I would add, in ourselves) means they (and we) have moved on from the last one.

And then there is the joy of reaching God’s standards. How good it feels when we have labored over our kids (or ourselves), prayed over them , trained them as best we can, and they “get it.”

I experienced this very joy sitting in the same service that spurred this post…because it was the second week Sam sat all the way through church. Praise God! As with other milestones he has passed, I prayed for this, labored for this, began training Sam each morning to sit while we sang Bible songs and prayed. And the work was/is hard. But the rewards are worth it!

This weekend’s reward reminded me that even when I don’t feel close to God, as long as I am faithful to him, I can take courage that I living out his purpose for me.

Dear Lord, help me to be faithful to the children you have given me, and faithful to my Christian walk, even when I don’t feel you close. Help me to stay the course in faith, knowing that one day this race I’m running will eventually lead me, and hopefully lead my kids, to your kingdom.

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5 thoughts on “What Christians and Parents Have in Common

  1. ccyager November 18, 2015 / 9:00 am

    One of the most important things about kids is that they a separate human beings. They are themselves, and no one else. They get to make choices, follow their hearts’ desires, and be who they are separate from their parents. When they have the freedom and confidence to do all that on their own, that is a powerful reflection on their parents and their successful parenting. While it’s important, as parents, to guide kids and educate them to be law-abiding citizens who behave well and get along well with others, it’s also important to allow kids to think for themselves. If kids choose not to follow the religion of their parents, but have a strong moral compass, which is more important? If kids decide on a different life path and not the one their parents had hoped they’d follow, that’s the kids’ choice and responsibility, not their parents’. One of the biggest lessons of parenting, I think, is to respect kids as separate human beings and let go of them out of love. Cinda

    • lindseygendke November 18, 2015 / 10:04 am

      I agree with you, Cinda. It is not our job to coerce our children, but to provide the best example we can, guide them lovingly in the early years, and let them make their own choices when they are of a reasonable, and reasoning, age. The God I serve first set this example in giving humankind free will; he gave us the choice to follow him or not. I hope I will have the wisdom and discernment to let my kids do the same…all the while living out an example that they can’t help but want to follow.

  2. Vinodhini November 22, 2015 / 11:36 pm

    Lindsey, last night I was constantly being stirred in my spirit about a similar thing you’re talking. Last night I read Ezekiel 34 – its a powerful chapter talking about how shepherds are not leading their sheep. And verse 16 says I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice.

    The verse was so powerful, I was just thinking of how great is his love for me that he saved me when I was lost, brought me back, strengthens me each day… And I was asking myself why I was unable to preach and teach this love of God to many… And thats when I could hear the still silent voice speaking to me saying… My family is my ministry.. I need to minister to them…. I dont have to go after the MINISTRY as a preacher, or a volunteer or a worship leader… If I can help my family see Christ – my ministry is accomplished!!!

    I’m so glad to see this post of yours… Ive extended ur parent post to a family member 😀

    Hope your doing good and your health is good..

    Lots of Love
    Vinodhini

    • lindseygendke November 23, 2015 / 6:58 am

      Vinodhini, it’s good to hear how the Lord is speaking to you! I think we moms can have a lot of unnecessary guilt about what we are not doing in the world…but you are right. If we can help our family see Christ, that is a wonderful ministry! And it should be top priority in this season of our lives as far as ministry goes. (Talking to myself as well.) I’m going to look up Ezekiel 34 today. It’s good to share this journey with you! I am doing well and wish the same for you! Lindsey

      • Vinodhini November 25, 2015 / 11:26 pm

        Infact the clarity about doing what I can and avoiding brooding about all that I can’t came from your suggestion of reading the book by Mr Covey – Seven habits of highly effective people.

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